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PSG oust Chelsea again to reach quarter-finals

By AP - Mar 10,2016 - Last updated at Mar 10,2016

Paris Saint Germain’s Zlatan Ibrahimovic scores his sides second goal of the game past a diving Chelsea goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois during their Champions League round of 16 second leg match in London, on Wednesday (AP photo by Frank Augstein)

LONDON — Zlatan Ibrahimovic demonstrated his enduring attacking threat on Wednesday by steering Paris Saint-Germain into the Champions League quarter-finals with a goal and an assist in a 2-1 victory at Chelsea.

By replicating the first-leg triumph in the French capital last month, PSG eliminated Chelsea for the second successive season in the round of 16, but it is far more damaging for the London club this time.

Languishing in 10th place in the Premier League after a feeble title defence, Chelsea will almost certainly be out of the Champions League next season for the first time since Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich bought the club in 2003.

Although Chelsea conceded in the 16th minute when Ibrahimovic’s cross was turned in by Adrien Rabiot, Diego Costa levelled 11 minutes later on his return from injury.

But Costa was forced off injured on the hour and Ibrahimovic was left unmarked to tap in PSG’s winner seven minutes later.

For the 34-year-old Sweden striker it was a timely goal with his PSG contract expiring at the end of the season while still — like his club — chasing a first Champions League title.

Chelsea’s only success in Europe’s elite competition came during the interim reign of Roberto Di Matteo in 2012. Four years on, Guus Hiddink has failed in the primary task of his stop-gap spell in the Chelsea dugout, with only the FA Cup now to play for.

This was a dour final Champions League night at Stamford Bridge, which is to be rebuilt from 2017, forcing Chelsea off the site until the next decade. The team requires a rebuilding job in the transfer market under Jose Mourinho’s permanent successor.

How Chelsea would relish the complete dominance of PSG. Sitting 23 points clear atop its league, the Qatar-owned French champions faced a rare test in west London.

Angel Di Maria, who endured a miserable season at Manchester United before joining PSG last year, was a constant menace on his return to England. The Argentine tried to clip the ball past goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois after six minutes but Branislav Ivanovic cleared.

Di Maria was the architect of the opener, releasing Ibrahimovic on the left flank. The forward slid the ball across the face of goal to the far post where Rabiot evaded Ivanovic and tapped in.

But Costa, who removed his protective face mask early on, made PSG regret branding him a “fraud” in a jocular pre-match Twitter video when he levelled in the 27th minute.

Thiago Motta conceded possession around halfway line before Pedro Rodriguez laid the ball off to Costa. The Spain striker twisted past Thiago Silva before netting only his second European goal in two seasons at Chelsea.

The 27-year-old Costa had a hard low shot parried by Kevin Trapp before half-time and he couldn’t beat the goalkeeper again before limping off.

Instead, this was a night for a striker seven years his senior in the twilight of his career, but still with the hunger for scoring.

Thiago Motta sent a diagonal pass to Di Maria on the left flank and the advancing winger was primed for his 11th assist in the last four Champions League seasons. Di Maria squared across the penalty area into the path of Ibrahimovic, who had slipped his marker before raising the ball into the net at the far post.

England’s Champions League hopes now rest with Manchester City, which leads Dynamo Kiev 3-1 and Arsenal, which trails Barcelona 2-0 in the round of 16 ahead of next week’s second legs.

 

In Wednesday’s other game, Benfica beat Zenit St Petersburg 2-1 to advance 3-1 on aggregate, joining Real Madrid and Wolfsburg who won on Tuesday. The remaining quarter-finalists are determined next week.

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